One of the most frustrating aspects of the Mac OSX operating system is forgetting the login account and needing to reset the password. There are very few options to prove you are who you are. The Apple Site offers two-factor authentication that can use the Apple ID to reset the password, but not everyone logs into apple regularly. You could possibly guess the password, but keychain can allow years to go by without ever having to log in at all.

Login Box – Username and Password in Internet Browser on Computer Screen

Fortunately, under the calming blue Aqua interface lies a dark Linux sub-system that is more than ready to help those willing to brave its dark administrative waters crack into those hard candy icons. Recovery without a password is almost terrifyingly easy, from the computer itself. In just 3 easy steps you can be back to the desktop and on your way.

Step 1: Boot into “Single User Mode” and remove a setup file.

This is like safe mode with command prompt on a Windows computer or going into recovery console on a tablet…Nothing too scary. Restart the Mac holding down the Command+S keys and this will take you into Single User Mode and its Terminal interface. It is a big black screen, don’t worry, just look for the blinking cursor and type the following:

The first command checks the file system. If everything goes well you can mount the root drive as a writeable disk so that the changes will save. The next command is to get rid of that pesky setup file that tells the Mac a user has logged in already. To do this, you use the command “rm” which stands for remove and the path to the file. Just remember, “With great power comes great responsibility”, don’t go deleting random files…After each command, hit the enter key and after the file is gone; reboot the Mac.

Recreate an Admin account using the First Time User Wizard.

Once the system reboots, the Mac won’t think anyone has logged in before. Just wave your hand and say, “These are not the droids you’re looking for, we can pass” and the screen will start with the traditional “Welcome Wizard” startup screen imploring the user to link it once again to the mighty and all powerful apple ID of your choosing. Then you can make a new account different from the one you had already. Continue on and boot into Mac OS X with this new and unique user account which now has administrative access. “These are not the droids we’re looking for, let them pass!”

Since an admin can change any account on the computer and you made a different admin account. Click on the Lock icon in the lower left corner of the “Accounts” preference in your System Preferences and enter the newly created user credentials. Just click on the account that you forgot and change the password to something new. Since the new account enables you to change other user accounts you can fix your old account and log in as that account again without an Apple ID.